Top 10 Favourite Musicals

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It’s no secret to anybody that I love musicals. However I’ve always claimed that I don’t like movies where there’s hardly any talking and just singing but I do have a few exceptions. It depends on the songs themselves. This list is only going to contain movies and not stage shows, and I’m sure I’ve missed a ton but here goes nothing!

10. Oliver! (Carol Reed, 1968)

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We did this play in primary school, the drama teacher from my future secondary school (which I didn’t know at the time) came in and got us to put on this show. I was absolutely desperate for the part of Dodgess (there was the usual Dodger and then a female version called Dodgess) but I didn’t get it, my friend Molly got it.

Because we put on the show I became a big fan of the movie and the soundtrack. I haven’t watched it in ages but I still listen to and sing some of the songs occasionally. I’d love to rewatch it now actually to see if I still love it as much as I did at the time. I might have to buy it on DVD.

Favourite Song: Oom Pah Pah

9. High School Musical (Kenny Ortega, 2006)

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The movie that most teenagers pretended to dislike but now aren’t afraid to admit that they actually love. I don’t care how old I am, you’ll still find me belting out some High School Musical tunes. I loved both the sequels as well and went to watch the third one in cinemas when I was a teenager. I wouldn’t mind having a High School Musical night soon actually, watching all three of the movies and singing along. Luckily my friends also admit that they love the movies so we’re forever singing the songs and we’ve watched the movie together a couple of times. This film just never gets old!

Favourite Song: Bop to the Top

8. Chicago (Rob Marshall, 2002)

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I’d heard so many good things about this movie and I loved the song ‘Cell Block Tango’ that when I came across a copy of the movie in a charity shop I didn’t hesitate to buy it. I watched it that same night and immediately fell in love with it even though the first time I watched it the storyline went over my head a little bit. I understand it now and love pretty much all of the songs from it.

I loved it so much that when the stage show came to Wolverhampton I immediately booked a ticket – but was ultimately disappointed. The amazing songs and cast were let down by an unimaginative design and costume, plus the choreography seemed quite lazy. When me and my Mum went to New York I thought it might be better on a Broadway stage but was mistaken. The film is still amazing though and one of my favourites.

Favourite Song: We Both Reached for the Gun

7. The Greatest Showman (Michael Gracey, 2017)

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For a while everybody loved this film and wouldn’t shut up about it but as with most films that become popular in a short space of time it then became the ‘in thing’ to dislike it. However I loved it – I’d been wanting to see it anyway but the lady who sits next to me at work told me she thought I’d love it and my friend Emma told me she’d loved it and wanted me to come see it with her again. So I went and instantly loved it. It’s just my kind of film.

I watched it again on the way to Japan and loved it all over again, it’s one of those films that would probably make me cry if I was watching it by myself. I just love pretty much everything about it and I’m not ashamed to admit that!

Favourite Song: Rewrite the Stars

6. Bugsy Malone (Alan Parker, 1976)

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I found out about this musical when we did the show in Primary School. Our teacher put it on for us to watch and I quickly loved it. As I got older I sort of forgot about it until one day I found one of the songs in my recommendations on YouTube. I gave it a listen and immediately missed the movie so I went out and bought it on DVD to rewatch it – and ended up loving it all over again! It’s so funny and I love the storyline and pretty much all of the songs.

Favourite Song: Fat Sam’s Grand Slam

5. Little Shop of Horrors (Frank Oz, 1986)

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This is another movie that I ended up loving due to performing it in Secondary School. We watched the film in like Year 8 and although I enjoyed it I didn’t think much else of it until our music teacher announced the 2013 play would be ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. As we were rehearsing I ended up loving the songs and the storyline. Most other people in my year complained that it was a depressing show for our last school performance (we were in year eleven so this was our last show) but I loved it.

I didn’t get a main part in that show, mainly because I didn’t audition for one, but I loved being a part of the chorus anyway. I’m a bit annoyed that I was put into chorus two because we were told that if we performed really well we could be bumped up to chorus one or equally if someone in chorus one wasn’t doing well they would be bumped down to two. I got compliments nearly every week that I was doing a good job while a girl in chorus one literally got yelled at to leave the stage and we both stayed within our own chorus’. Oh well, I got on well with the other girls in my chorus and I think we did a good job.

Due to my love of the songs I’ve ended up loving the movie as well. I haven’t actually watched it in a while and I’d love to give it another watch. I prefer the ending where the plants win because although it’s a more depressing ending my favourite song in the show was ‘Finale Ultimo (Don’t Feed the Plants)’. But the other ending is still good!

Favourite Song: Feed Me (Get It)

4. Annie (John Huston, 1982)

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I don’t care what anybody says – this is one of my favourite musicals and I always put it on when I’m in a bad mood. It’s had a couple of remakes, both of which were good but I still don’t think they beat the original. I saw the stage show in London about a year ago and although I enjoyed it I still don’t think it was quite as good as the film.

I’ve loved this musical ever since I was a little kid and I don’t think I’ll ever dislike it, it’ll always be high on my list of favourites!

Favourite Song: It’s a Hard Knock Life

3. Hairspray

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I still remember the first time I watched this – my Dad took me up town and bought me one CD, one book and one DVD and I asked for this film then made my Mom sit down and watch it with me. I don’t think I loved it at first watch because as a little kid the message kind of went over my head a little bit. But now that I’m older I love it.

I saw the stage show of this as well and wasn’t disappointed, although they’re different I still love them both. But the movie is a good one to throw on when I’m in a bad mood because it doesn’t fail to cheer me up. My favourite part is definitely when Inez is announced as the winner of Miss Hairspray. I want to rewatch this one as well now!

Favourite Song: Run and Tell That

2. Mamma Mia (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008)

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For a while I wasn’t really a fan of this film. I just never watched it in school but I did listen to the soundtrack on YouTube and I loved that. Then one time when I was in London with my Mom I told her she could choose the show we went to see and she settled on ‘Mamma Mia’ and I ended up really enjoying it! So I decided I’d have to watch the film.

I decided to put it on one night when I was at home by myself and feeling a bit weird and unfortunately it turned out I was feeling weird because I was sick. Like throw-up sick. So that was my association with the movie, I got through the first hour or so and then spent the rest of it in my bathroom being sick.

When the sequel came out I went to the cinema with some friends and loved it. Becca and Hirst love the Mamma Mia movies too so when we had a sleepover we had a Mamma Mia night and watched both movies. Then we watched the sequel together again another time we both came over. Now we all love Mamma Mia and keep singing the songs to each other. I think I prefer the sequel a little bit more but wanted to put the first one on the list to make a bit neater. But both movies are great!

Favourite Song: Does Your Mother Know? (Or Angel Eyes from the sequel)

1. Into The Woods (Rob Marshall, 2015)

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I’ll be truthful, I hadn’t seen any trailers or knew anything about this film except for the fact that Chris Pine was in it. I’m a huge Chris Pine fan and decided to go to the cinema to watch it just because he was in it. When it started and I realised it was a musical I was a bit uncertain but by the end I loved it and returned to the cinema a further five times to see it.

I love everything about it, the soundtrack is perfect so I didn’t think twice when I spotted a CD copy of it in HMV, I bought it straightaway. I’m not normally a fan of musicals where everything’s sang with little to no talking but ‘Into the Woods’ is my exception. Because I love pretty much every song it doesn’t feel like there are that many songs – when I bought the DVD me and Jess watched it for a singalong session and it really felt like there weren’t enough songs! This is definitely my favourite musical and I’d love to see a stage version of it one day.

Favourite Song: Your Fault

Well there we go, there’s my ten favourite musicals! Feel free to leave a comment with your favourites or any recommendations.

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Universal Studios Osaka

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I can’t remember how we decided which parts of Japan we’d visit other than Tokyo but I think Osaka was always on the list because we wanted to visit Universal Studios. Becca was celebrating her birthday while we were in Osaka so we decided to go to Universal Studios for the day.

This was another one where we couldn’t buy the tickets in advance, it just wasn’t an option if you lived in the UK but luckily ticket sales were marked more clearly than they had been at Disneyland and queuing didn’t take too long. We each got a different movie on our ticket, Jess got Jurassic Park, I got Transformers and hilariously Becca got Minions. She tried to swap but nobody else wanted the Minions ticket.

Jess had read online that it’s best to head straight to Harry Potter world first to avoid crowds so we did that and this was another place I’d seen in vlogs but it didn’t prepare me for entering and hearing the Harry Potter music. The whole place looks absolutely magical as if you’re actually in Hogsmeade. We joined a queue for something heading towards the castle, I thought it was like a walk through thing but it turned out to be a ride so I decided not to go on. Becca and Jess did and they said it was amazing, it was like you were following Harry and Ron on broomsticks.

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Once they were done on that they wanted to go on Flight of the Hippogriff which was just across from the Hogwarts castle so we queued for that and as per usual I chickened out when we got to the front. Becca and Jess said that was good too.

After that we did a bit of shopping, Becca bought a Slytherin t-shirt and we each bought a chocolate frog so that we could see who’s cards we got. I got Dumbledore, Becca got Godric Gryffindor and Jess got Bertie Bott. We bought one for Hirst to bring back to the UK and she got Rowena Ravenclaw which was lucky as that’s which house she’s in.

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We decided to grab lunch at this point so we found a pizza place. I’m not a fan of pizza but Becca’s a vegetarian and hadn’t been able to eat much for the past couple of weeks but we wanted her to have a decent meal on her birthday so we went in and she got a vegetarian pizza. I think Jess had the same and there was some pork dish thing that I ordered which wasn’t fantastic but it was better than nothing.

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We had a quick look at the map and then wandered around until we found the Spider-Man ride. Becca and Jess went on whilst I waited outside for them. I wish I wasn’t afraid of rides, it’s such a pain. They came out and said they’d really enjoyed it so must’ve been good. We decided to get ice-cream after that because it was so hot in Japan while we were there and everybody loves a good ice-cream.

After that I paid to have a go on a game where you throw balls at milk bottles to win prizes. I started off well ‘cos my first throw knocked them all over, it was only because one of the bottles stayed on the stand that I lost. I was like ‘okay I’ve got it down, just need to improve my technique a bit’. After that I got progressively worse somehow so I didn’t win anything but it had been fun.

We walked off again and found an Insidious ride but you had to collect tickets before you could go in so we got ours but they weren’t valid until 6:15PM so we had time to kill. We found a zombie thing and I joined the queue with my friends. I was debating whether to go for it and when the doors opened I nearly chickened out but followed my friends in. We were taken into a large room where we watched several videos and actors – the whole thing was in Japanese but we got the gist that there was a zombie apocalypse. A code came on one of the screens and we weren’t sure if we needed to remember it or not so Jess memorised it just in case.

We were taken outside and I was initially disappointed ‘cos I thought that was the whole thing but we joined another queue and went to an outdoor bit where we had to navigate a sort of maze and avoid the zombies. I was running around screaming my head off and when I made it to the next queue a zombie came down and rattled a box behind me so I shrieked again. We were taken around a corner and a large zombie was killed in some water or something because we got absolutely soaked.

We ran back into another building and my memories a bit fuzzy ‘cos I was panicking at the time (but also having fun!) – I remember a lady was yelling at us in Japanese but I didn’t know what she was saying so Jess dragged me and Becca into this little nook in the wall and we tried to cover ourselves with a curtain but it wouldn’t quite go round with all three of us there. We were told to come out and we were watching this woman when a massive zombie appeared behind her so we screamed and ran off.

We got to the end and we had to choose whether to go left or right and I hate making decisions but luckily Jess made it for us and we went left with two other girls. We had to input the code from earlier but the girls in front remembered it and we’d chosen the right path because we succeeded and the side next to us failed. We ran out and it was over! We all sat down to talk about it, agreed it had been hilarious and then I had to have several sips of water because all the screaming had killed my throat.

We carried on walking and Jess and Becca found The Flying Dinosaur ride so decided to queue for that. They asked if I wanted to queue with them but we’d been travelling together almost two weeks at this point so I decided to just sit by myself for a bit. I got a little bit too relaxed because after about half-an-hour I leaned against a pole, ‘rested my eyes’ and ended up falling asleep. Next thing I knew Becca was shaking me awake.

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They told me about their experience on the ride and apparently it wasn’t a good one. They didn’t feel secure in the ride and it just wasn’t a fun experience, even Jess said she’d been terrified so I was glad I didn’t go on even though I’d have never had the nerve anyway.

We joined the queue for the Jurassic Park ride and Jess tried to convince me to go on “It’s just a relaxing boat ride looking at the dinosaurs.” She told me. Becca read out the description in our leaflet which said ‘a boat ride with dinosaurs with a thrilling drop at the end’. “The drop’s not that big” Jess reassured me.

I spent the whole queue debating but the safety video didn’t make the drop look too big and at the start of the ride there’s a little ramp that the boat goes up so I asked Jess if that was as big as the drop was and she assured me that yes it was. What a load of rubbish.

I sat in the ride and immediately said “I’m actually not sure anymore” but Becca and Jess were on one side of me and two strangers were on the other side so Becca told me “Well it’s too late now” and the ride got started. It wasn’t too bad to begin with although I was a bit fearful of the drop but seeing the dinosaurs was cool. Then suddenly our boat went vertical and we started climbing up quite high. I was proper getting into panic mode at this point but there was nothing to do, it wasn’t like I could get off the ride!

We got to the end with the massive T-Rex roaring at us but I barely looked at it because I was craning to see the drop which to most people probably wasn’t that big but to me, who was expecting a little baby drop, was MASSIVE. I screamed the entire way down while Becca and Jess wailed about ruining their hair and make-up. When we hit the bottom we got pretty wet because we’d been sat at the front of the bloody boat. I was relieved when we got to the bottom and was glad I’d been on it but NEVER AGAIN.

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We decided to get dinner next since our Insidious time slot was coming up so we went into the Jaws themed restaurant which was like a fast food place. It was overlooking the Jaws ride which I’ve seen videos of on Facebook and it looks like fun but me and Becca are scared of sharks so we didn’t go on it. I know it’s not a real shark but even knowing these fake sharks are in the water would’ve put me on edge.

Once we were done with dinner we headed in the direction of the Insidious attraction and it was getting dark at this point and lots of announcements were being made. Because it was October there was a lot of Halloween themed entertainment going on with actors dressed up going round scaring people which was pretty funny – if one came near me or Becca we screamed and ran in the opposite direction.

We headed into the Insidious attraction and I knew I’d enjoy it if it was like the zombie one but queuing for it is always the worst bit because my imagination runs wild. When we got to the front we had to hold onto a piece of red cloth with four girls in front of us, then me, then Jess and then Becca at the back. She begged to swap and I felt bad because it was her birthday but I was too scared to swap!

We went in and I feel like I didn’t appreciate it enough ‘cos I was so scared but I feel terrible for these four girls in front because they barely flinched, they had me behind them screaming my head off at everything, Jess just behind laughing so hard that she couldn’t breath and then Becca at the back screaming and yelling “Don’t touch me!” every ten seconds. I definitely remember the last room which was full of people underneath cloths and we didn’t know which one was real and which were mannequins until one started jerking around and I screamed then apparently that or something followed us out of the room. I’m not gonna lie the stress was real and it was so well done. Definitely recommend.

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We were going to squeeze in another ride when we came out but there was still some entertainment on so we ended up joining a zombie rave, which Becca absolutely loved. Once we’d watched all that we decided to go shopping a bit earlier in the hopes that it wouldn’t be too crowded and it was okay to be fair, we got a few souvenirs each.

There was a night parade on so our plan was to grab some snacks and find our spot but most of the snacks carts closed down for some reason so we just found a spot anyway. It was nice to sit down but unfortunately unlike at the Disney parades where everyone was just left to sit we were told that if you weren’t on the front row you had to stand up which was a PAIN in my anus but the parade was amazing. My favourites were the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park floats. It would have been better if it had been a bit longer but it was still amazing.

Overall I loved Universal Studios but I think I preferred Disneyland a little bit more. Jess preferred Universal and I think Becca did too, I can’t remember. I agree with what Jess said, that what’s interesting is that all sections of the park look completely different to each other whereas at Disney they can blend together a bit. I think Universal is better for people who like big, fast rides whereas Disney has more of a variety. Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places, I don’t know. Also the Disney parades were better but that’s kind of what Disney is known for. I would definitely go back if given the opportunity.

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Our Day Trip to Mt Fuji and the Aokigahara Forest

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When planning our trip to Japan we all agreed we wanted to see Mt Fuji and the Aokigahara Suicide Forest but we had read it can be quite difficult to reach by yourself from Tokyo by public transport so in the end we booked a day trip. It cost around £100 each but it was the easiest way to see the mountain and we would also briefly visit the Aokigahara Forest to go down into an ice cave.

We booked the day trip for the Wednesday as this was halfway through the trip and we knew we’d appreciate the long coach journey there as our legs and feet would be aching. As it turned out we were absolutely exhausted on the day as we’d had a full, long day at Disneyland the day before and then we had to be up early to go on the trip in time.

The trip left from a hotel and it was relatively easy to find. It was a good hotel because it contained a convenience store so we were able to stock up on lunch items as our package hadn’t included lunch, we checked into the trip, used the loo and then waited until our tour group was collected. We were all given stickers to wear and as we were waiting a horrific realisation dawned upon all of us – only our stickers said ‘cave.’ Nobody else’s said that. We weren’t seriously going to go down the caves as just the three of us and one tour guide?

Our tour guide picked us up and led us to the coach that would take us to Mt Fuji. She was really nice, she introduced herself (I’ve already forgotten her name) and then talked us through the day. On the coach we realised it would genuinely just be the three of us heading down the caves because after going to the mountain the rest of our group was going to lunch at a hotel then going on a boat ride. We were getting dropped off at the hotel and someone would come and pick us up for the cave tour. Fantastic.

We’d been looking forward to a couple of hours of sleep, or listening to music or just generally relaxing on the coach but our tour guide was having none of that. On the way there we all sang a song, did some origami and she told us a story about two mountains. She also pointed out things of interest on the way and gave us so many facts about Mt Fuji that I couldn’t possibly remember them all.

We’d all been warned in advance by many websites and vloggers that most people don’t see the summit because it’s normally covered by clouds but we were lucky as it was a clear day so we could see it. Our tour guide was delighted and kept preparing us for good photo opportunities out of the window.

We drove straight up to the fifth station which is the highest point that vehicles can go. The views were AMAZING, not just of Mt Fuji itself but we were above the clouds at this point so the view downwards looked beautiful. Unfortunately it was quite bright that day so I’m squinting in pretty much all of my photos and look a mess but the view was perfect.

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Shout-out to our tour guide who had given us a map of everywhere we should go whilst at the fifth station. We were all given a token to receive a free ‘lucky bell’ which apparently had been taken to the top of Mt Fuji and blessed at a shrine I believe? Our tour guide made sure we all received our lucky bell and she’d pointed out other places to visit on the little map. We all bought a couple of souvenirs – I bought a little Mt Fuji plushie (for some reason, I don’t know what I was thinking) and some Mt Fuji biscuits that I was thinking of either keeping or giving away as a gift. They got a bit bashed in my suitcase on the way back but never mind.

We took as many photos as possible and then headed back to the coach – our tour guide had made sure we didn’t get lost by pointing the way and making us note down the registration. When she got on the coach she told us we could’ve stopped at the first station but since one couple were late back we couldn’t. Then she had the idea of missing five minutes of lunch so we could stop so we made a stop at the first station and took some photos from there too.

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We carried on to the hotel which was a short drive away and from that point we were on our own. We headed in the direction of a park but ended up sat on the floor outside of some houses to eat our lunch. It wasn’t too bad since it was a nice day, wouldn’t have been so fun if it had been raining or freezing cold though.

We walked back to the hotel and sat outside to wait for our coach. Our new tour guide pulled up and we realised it was definitely going to just be the three of us on this tour. She introduced herself (I half remember her name but don’t wanna write it in case I’m wrong!) and we hopped into her car. From the way we’d been sat outside the hotel Jess and Becca both got to sit in the back while I told them I hated them both because I had to sit in the front with the tour guide. To be fair she was nice so it wasn’t too bad.

We made a stop on the way so that we could have a last minute loo break and we put on our overalls over our clothes. I was so worried that mine wouldn’t fit because I am quite big but luckily they were a little baggy so it wasn’t an issue. She also gave us our helmets and gloves which we would need in the cave. We still had a good view of Mt Fuji so she took some photos of us with the mountain in the background.

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We got back in the car and she drove us to the edge of the forest, and we all walked towards it. She stopped us at the gate to formally introduce herself and she asked us what we knew about the forest. None of us wanted to say we knew it was famous for suicides so Jess explained “Recently there was a controversy where a guy came here, found something he shouldn’t have and posted it on the internet and received a lot of backlash.” Obviously referring to Logan Paul. Our tour guide was like “I don’t know much about that but this forest is famous as the place where people come to commit suicide.” Oh, so we were allowed to mention it.

She went on to explain that we were not at the area this was commonly known for so we weren’t going to be coming across any dead bodies and then she went through some safety instructions which included not straying from the path and that we weren’t allowed to take a little stone home with us as a souvenir. Apparently we’d have got fined a lot of money.

We set off and she knew so much stuff about the forest that it was unreal. It’s such an interesting forest and it’s quite sad that the fascination everyone has with it, myself included originally, is the suicide part. Did you know the roots can’t grow underground because of the lava that’s in the soil so they grow outwards instead? It was just really beautiful.

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At one point our tour guide stopped and asked us why we thought it might be easy to get lost in this forest. My thoughts were that if we went in too deep we wouldn’t be able to hear any like traffic or outside noises due to the trees but I was too shy to suggest this. Nothing could’ve prepared us for Jess’ answer which was “Because the spirits may mislead you.” To which our tour guide was like “… Not quite. The lava in the soil can affect your compass and make it point the wrong way.”

It was a bit of a trek to the cave and we had to climb over a fallen log on the way. I took one look at it and realised I wouldn’t be able to clamber over. I asked one of my friends for advice, I can’t remember whether it was Becca or Jess, and they told me to crawl under it so I had to do that. It wasn’t very graceful but at least I made it.

We made it to the cave and firstly we had to climb down into the middle bit and at this point I began to stress a little because I took it quite slowly, still managed to whack my head several times (thank god for the helmet) and a couple of times was convinced I would fall but I made it to the middle bit eventually. At this point we were below ground but it was still open above us so we were still out in the open.

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The next step was climbing down some rocks, onto a bamboo ladder and down into the cave. Now at this point I really did start to panic ‘cos I hadn’t been able to hop the bloody log but now I needed to shimmy down some rocks and onto a ladder? Surely there was no chance. Our tour guide went first, followed by Becca who was a little nervous but made it down, and then by Jess who isn’t afraid of anything really. Then suddenly it was my turn.

I started to go down and then panicked and asked her “But what if I fall?” to which she responded in a done voice “You won’t fall.” I kept putting my foot back and then going ‘ooh no’ and bring it back so in the end she had to be like “You’re so close, stop going back!” She grabbed my foot, and I finally managed to put it on the ladder.

Jess looked up, watched me coming down the ladder and went “Well done Hollie!” so I responded “Pal I appreciate your support but you are blinding me.” We’d switched on our head lamps and they were really bright in the dark cave. After what felt like a lifetime I was finally in the cave and we could start exploring.

Someone in the reviews had advised that you need to be quite physically fit for the caves and I could now see what they meant. It was quite literally a climb through the caves and like a moron I’d forgotten to wear my tacky shoes that morning so I was wearing my vans which probably got a little bit ruined. At least I didn’t lose them like someone else had which our tour guide pointed out as their shoe was still in the cave.

The worst part was when we reached the ‘ice’ bit, I tried to hold on to the walls or rocks whenever I could but then we got to an open bit and we had to head out into the middle. She’d advised us to walk slowly or like penguins but I still kept slipping every two seconds and kept grabbing Jess, making her stress that I was going to pull us both down. Our tour guide told us we couldn’t go any further because there was a slope downwards and due to the ice we’d never be able to get back up. We posed for a photo in front of it and Jess got stressed that I was going to knock her down it but luckily I did not.

When we got back up our tour guide suggested we all switch our lamps off and experience complete darkness. I wasn’t particularly a fan of this idea but we all did so and it was entirely pitch black. She went on to explain that our eyes would never adjust to the dark because there wasn’t any natural light coming in. She then pointed out that our voices didn’t echo so if something happened and we screamed for help down here no one would hear us. At this point I was a bit like ‘omg is she planning to murder us?’ because it did sound like she was getting closer but obviously… She didn’t murder us. Becca did try to scare Jess by tapping her and I’m pretty sure someone tried to do the same to me. The only thing creeping me out was that it reminded me a little of ‘The Descent’ and considering how slow I was in the cave I knew I wouldn’t stand a chance if some little creatures started chasing us.

We started to head back out of the cave and she asked if we wanted to climb out a different way but that way would be more difficult. The others didn’t mind but I asked if we could go the same way ‘cos I knew I’d be lucky if I could make it back up that bamboo ladder, let alone climbing out a more difficult way. I watched the others head up and take the obligatory photo on the top of the ladder and then followed them myself. I was worried I’d get stuck or something but luckily I made it up without any issues.

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Our tour guide took some photos of us outside the cave and then suggested we go for a walk through the forest since we were done earlier than expected. I was aching all over but we were all keen to see more of the forest so we agreed. It wasn’t a long walk but she showed us heaps more stuff and got us doing some weird things, she wanted us to climb a tree branch, swing on a vine and got us to stand inside a hollow log. Jess had gone in with her headlamp on and said it was full of bugs – she didn’t tell me this because she knew I’d chicken out if I knew so I went in and it was weird, if you stood up everything outside was muffled.

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The forest was amazing and I really can’t explain just how much she knew, it was TONS. By the time we got back to her car I was grateful to sit down though, my entire body just ached from clambering through that cave. It had definitely been worth it though.

Earlier that morning our first tour guide had given us some bus tickets to get back to Tokyo so our forest tour guide dropped us off at the bus station which happened to be right in front of a massive theme park which she told us had free entry, you just needed to pay for the rides. We could see a HUGE rollercoaster which Becca and Jess were keen to go on so we rushed down but when they queued up it was quite a lot and a long wait so we didn’t bother, we got some food instead. I’d like to go back one day just to visit the theme park to be honest because apparently it’s really popular with the Japanese people… I have forgotten what it was called though.

We headed back to the bus station and it was a guessing game on which bus was ours. We literally took it in turns approaching every bus, holding out our tickets and going “Us? Our bus?” Eventually we hit the right one though and took our seats at the back. I was jealous when Becca took out her headphones because I’d forgotten to bring mine but it didn’t matter, the three of us were asleep in literally seconds. I was so shocked when we reached Tokyo because the bus journey took two hours, it felt like it had been about two minutes.

So if in Tokyo I definitely recommend a visit to Mt Fuji and the ice cave because it was one of the highlights of our trip, I’m so glad we got to see them. I’d love to explore more of the Aokigahara Forest and revisit that theme park we went to. Definitely go if you’re in Japan!

Themed Cafes in Japan

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One thing I was really looking forward to and loved in Japan were their themed cafes. We booked a few in advance, turned up to some and had some funny experiences at some. So I decided to write a blog post of the quirky/themed cafes we visited in Japan!

Kawaii Monster Café

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Ever since I heard of this place I wanted to visit and luckily Becca and Jess wanted to as well. There’s a small fee to get in and I think you have to order one drink and one food item each. Becca managed to book us a table in advance meaning we got to skip the queue and we were given a cute booth right in the middle of the café.

The moment the doors open you’re greeted by a girl dressed in whacky clothes who takes you to your table and explains what’s available and how to order. I thought they were waitresses but they’re more entertainers because they don’t take orders or bring food.

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My only downside was that the food wasn’t very tasty, I ordered chicken and waffles and the waffles were really dry and I wasn’t particularly a fan of the chicken either. Becca ordered some rainbow spaghetti which looked quite cute. We also ordered dessert, I got a rainbow slice of cake which looked really sweet but again it was let down a little bit by the taste. Jess ordered a pet bowl thing which was cereal with ice cream underneath which was quite cute. What I did like was that you didn’t have to do the awkward ‘how can we catch the waiters attention’ thing, there was a button you could press and someone would come over.

You’re only allowed your table for 90 minutes and at 1PM, when our 90 minutes was up, the entertainers put on a show which was fun and really cute. I’d go just for the cute Instagram pictures to be honest because the whole café just looks absolutely amazing. I’d definitely recommend it if in Tokyo but don’t expect much from the food.

Maidreamin

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I heard of Maid cafes through Dan and Phil who visited one while they were in Japan and I wanted to experience one myself even though I knew it would be a bit cringe. Jess wanted to as well, Becca was less keen but the two of us insisted so we dragged her to a Maidreamin café ‘cos I’d read online that this chain was quite good.

Google Maps was taking us to the main one in Akihibara when I noticed a sign for one right next to us in the area we were already visiting so we took the lift up to the café and discovered we were the only people in there. We knew the experience would be a bit embarrassing but this made it about a thousand times worse.

To be fair our maid was really lovely but the experience was completely new to us. She brought over a fake candle and we had to do cute actions to make it ‘light up’. Then she put some animal ears on our heads without asking and seeing Becca’s face as she did this was truly hilarious. She explained the menu to us and told us when we wanted to order we had to say ‘miaow miaow’ while pretending to be a cat.

I wanted savoury food preferably but I wanted the set so I went for the cheapest one which included a dessert, a souvenir and a picture with the maid. Jess went for the same one and Becca wanted some spaghetti. We made eye contact with our maid who clearly knew we wanted to order and she looked us dead in the eye and went “Miaow miaow?” so we had to do the action to get her to come over and take our order.

She kept coming back over to chat to us which of course was part of the experience. Her English was quite good and for anything she didn’t know she used her phone. We had our food, mine and Jess’ ice cream were animal themed and they were so cute then we went on the stage to take our photo. Me and Jess were allowed to come up together and the maid called to Becca to come up as well but she was like “No.” and refused to come up.

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If I were in Tokyo again I’d actually want to go back, preferably to the more popular Maidreamin to get the ‘full experience’ but it was tons of fun even if it was a bit cringe. I’m not sure we could ever convince Becca to go back though.

The Lock-up

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We were worried with this one that if we didn’t book in advance we wouldn’t be able to get in – I can’t remember but I think we read somewhere that all the themed cafes are popular so it’s best to book in advance otherwise you’re not guaranteed a table. This was almost impossible to book because it required a Japanese phone number which of course I didn’t have so in the end I put in a fake number and the booking finally went through after tons of stressing. With the booking we had to book a set meal option and I selected ‘pay on arrival’.

We went on a Monday night and my advice would be to just turn up because we passed quite a few empty cells so if you want to go then that’s probably best. The woman who greeted us didn’t speak any English which like is fine ‘cos it’s a Japanese restaurant but it was made very awkward as we tried to explain we had a reservation and she didn’t understand. She also wore a mask that covered her entire face which made the misunderstandings a lot more difficult. Luckily we’d printed off our reservation so we got there in the end. She handcuffed Jess and led us all to our prison cell – quite quickly down a set of stairs, I’m glad it was Jess she handcuffed otherwise I’d have fallen to my death down those stairs trying to keep up with her!

You’re taken into a little booth designed to look like a prison cell and they shut the door leaving you in there alone – they don’t lock it obviously because that would be a massive fire hazard. There’s a screen where you can order whatever food you want and they bring it but as we had our set meal we didn’t do this. One guy came in to explain the drinks to us but his English wasn’t amazing either so it was all a bit confusing but we got there in the end. We didn’t go for the weird drinks because these cost extra so me and Jess went for an orange juice and Becca accidentally ordered a cocktail or something.

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They started bringing the food out and I’ll be honest it was very hit and miss. They brought out some cooked meat which I really enjoyed but lots of other dishes were not appealing to us. They brought out some chips which we all appreciated but they’d covered these in a pink sauce – none of us were sure what the sauce was but we didn’t like it so we tried to just eat the uncovered ones. My favourite had to be when they brought us something purple in a round dish and Becca confidently said “It’s purple custard!” She took a large spoonful and went “Ooh and there’s some kind of cake sponge at the bottom.” Took the biggest mouthful I have ever seen, went still and said in a horrified voice “It’s some kind of cheese.”

Halfway through the meal all the lights go out and your iPad where you can order the food comes up with a little ‘warning’ sign which is the point where the staff go from cell to cell scaring their customers which was a lot of fun. Becca was sat closest to the door so she got picked on the most and it was just really funny. I wish we had more places like that in the UK.

I would recommend coming here but here are some tips: Don’t book in advance, turning up and just ordering what you want is certain to work out better. Be aware that this place is quite expensive, that one meal cost us a lot more than I had expected. If anyone there is celebrating a birthday they will play the birthday song on repeat for at least ten minutes at a time. It is weird but it’s also tons of fun!

Hedgehog Café

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I’m going to warn you in advance if you plan on visiting one day – they do not serve food here. Do not turn up feeling hungry like me and Jess did. This was Becca’s café of choice and we decided to go on my birthday since we couldn’t go to Disneyland but unfortunately Becca started to feel unwell so couldn’t come. Me and Jess turned up quite hungry and discovered the word ‘café’ is not literal.

You have to put exact change into a machine which gives you a ticket and you can choose your option. You can either stay for half-an-hour or an hour and you have the option of buying hedgehog food as well. We went for an hour and got the hedgehog food as well because Jess had read that the hedgehogs are more likely to wake up and be alert if you have the food.

You’re allowed one drink out of the vending machine so Jess went for some kind of pop that isn’t available in the UK as it was free so she could try it and I went for a hot chocolate which to be fair was really tasty. You’re taken to a little trough where the staff explain how to pick up and interact with the hedgehogs.

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I think what makes this place good is that the staff are really friendly – they jumped in and offered to take photos for every guest, Jess went around to get some shots for her vlog and one guy took the biggest hedgehog out of his pen to show her and told her his name and some stuff about him (the hedgehog that is, not himself). I’m glad we went for an hour because half-an-hour would’ve been way too quick and the whole thing was super cute. I’d definitely go back. We bought Becca a little hedgehog plushie to make up for the fact that she couldn’t come but next time in Tokyo we’ll make sure she gets to go!

Alice in Magical Land

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There’s a sort of chain of Alice in Wonderland cafes in Tokyo and we decided we had to go so we settled on Alice in Magical Land. It was at the bottom of a shopping centre and all the waitresses are dressed up as Alice and they all looked super cute. They served us water and told us if we wanted to get their attention we just had to yell “Alice!” None of us had the nerve to do this but luckily they came over regularly.

The foods are all themed around Alice in Wonderland so me and Jess got some Cheshire Cat spaghetti and Becca got… Some… Avocado caterpillar spaghetti I wanna say? I’m not gonna lie this wasn’t the tastiest meal I’ve ever had on the planet but it was cute and the whole café is so adorable.

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The waitresses brought us over some bunny ears so we got to take some cute photos with them – we were going to take pictures with certain parts of the café which I think Becca and Jess may have done but I decided to pay the bill mostly in coins to get rid of them and as I was carrying it to the till I kept dropping them to the point where the waitresses had to come and help me. Embarrassing. It was a cute place though and I’m glad we went.

Robot Restaurant

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Luckily we’d read online that food was not available at this place so we were sort of prepared… Except we still felt a bit full after the Kaiwaii Monster café so we weren’t actually hungry until about 9PM, when the show was due to start. We were advised there was fair type food for example candyfloss, popcorn and we noticed a food stand when we entered only to be advised that he had sold out. We went to the other stand and ordered some chicken and chips which luckily was in stock. We got stressed that the show would start before the food was ready but we were advised to take our seats and this would be brought to us and to be fair, it did arrive really quickly.

The emphasis on the robot restaurant is the show that they put on and it’s quite steep at 8000 yen but we had heard it was unmissable and looking at just the décor outside I was excited because it looked amazing. Although the show was a lot of fun I still felt a little disappointed when we left – there was more emphasis on the actors than there was on the robots themselves and for the price I low-key felt like it hadn’t been worth it.

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Also, they take you to your seat and you have to squeeze between the tables to get to them – I literally thought the person was joking when they told us to walk through as the gap was non-existent and I’m a bit on the larger side so it was a bit embarrassing having to squeeze through but not an issue once you’re in your seat I guess.

I’m glad I went just to say I’ve been but it’s not an experience I’m in a rush to repeat.

Caesar Café

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When we were planning our trip we’d get exhausted of the actual planning and then watch vlogs to hype ourselves up and that’s how we discovered this K-Pop themed café. It’s an area full of K-Pop shops and from the outside you wouldn’t guess the theme as it looks like an ordinary café and I suppose inside there isn’t a ton of emphasis on K-Pop – they do play K-Pop music videos though and have a few posters on the walls.

The best part about this café though for K-Pop fans is the drinks. You’re allowed to pick a mug with your favourite group on it and if you pick certain groups they’ll put the logo in chocolate powder on top of the drink, as you can see they did with Becca’s as she chose a Super Junior mug. I went for Girls’ Generation and Jess had Black Pink so we only got hearts. I wish I’d gone for the BTS one but as we all love BTS it felt a bit too obvious but I wish I had upon reflection. I will if I ever return!

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We went there on the morning of my birthday and it was probably the best birthday breakfast I’ve ever had, we all had pancakes and they were quite possibly the tastiest pancakes I’ve ever had. If you’re a K-Pop fan I definitely recommend going, we were the only people in there and everything was amazing – the staff were nice, the food/drinks were amazing and they play K-Pop like how can you go wrong?

Owl Café

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This place was in Osaka and was another one where there’s not actually any food but there is a drink included. I’m not the biggest fan of owls to be truthful, I once had a dream that everywhere I looked in my house there was an owl and since then it’s put me off a bit but I went with an open mind. We were the only people in there as we had been for a few other places. We each had an orange juice then went to pet the owls.

You’re not allowed to stroke them anywhere other than their beaks as otherwise they get stressed out so for most of it I reached out my hand to stroke them and then chickened out at the last second because I was worried about getting pecked. The owls were quite sweet but I felt a bit sorry for them just having to be stuck in this little café for peoples enjoyment. Overall though it was still a good time.

So yeah, those are the themed cafes we visited in Japan! I had a ton of fun at all of them, even the awkward or embarrassing moments. Leave a comment of any themed cafes you’ve visited or if you want to visit any!